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Reckless, so it could point its paragraph,
Of chief's perplexity, or people's pain !
“Beside this corpse, that bears for winding sheet
The stars and stripes he lived to rear anew,
Say, scurrile jester, is there room for you ?”
Surely there is room for all. As Lincoln felt for mankind, so now every kind of men can feel for him.
" He was the Southern mother, leaning forth
From France, immediately after his death, came one of the most just recognitions of what formed the President's political significance. Some French liberals sent Mrs. Lincoln a medal on which part of the inscription was, “Saved the Republic, without veiling the Statue of Liberty." That he used great power without in any degree injuring the Republican system will always be a corner-stone of his fame. In his very last public address he pointed out that the ability of the nation to preserve itself without checking its freedom was the most hopeful lesson of the war. If Democracy is the best government, it is because it is well that the people should rule themselves, make their own errors, and find their own remedies. Lincoln helped them to do this. He was sure that the great body of his fellow-citizens needed only time and the facts to sail safely through the roughest sea. V His object was to persuade and not to coerce. He knew that such was the meaning of Democracy.
1 Maurice Thompson.
« Come, let us reason together about this matter,” Lowell imagines him always saying. His life he measured out alone, without intimate friends, with the universal heart of the people for his friend. Like them he was careless of many little things, and profoundly just on big ones. Like them he was not quick, but sure. He took his wisdom and his morals from the range of his country, east and west, north and south, hearing the distant voices with a keener ear than most, and not caring to theorize until he had weighed the messages from every corner.
In natural harmony with his breadth in great things went his easy tact in small ones. The course of the story has taken us through many proofs of this, has given pictures of anxious steering around obstacles, where a straight course would have meant shipwreck; but a tale of his mild superiority, told by Lowell in his powerful essay on Democracy, adds another to a list which can hardly be too long. The Marquis of Hartington, although he wore a secession badge at a public ball at New York, yet was led by curiosity and bad taste to seek an introduction to the President. Lincoln, with the dignity of ease, kept his gentleness, without quite hiding his contempt, by innocently and persistently addressing the foreign nobleman as Mr. Partington. The critic who tells this story, referring to Lincoln's writing, says that the tone of familiar dignity is perhaps the most difficult attainment of mere style, as well as an indication of personal character. Certainly, the power to speak, act, and write with humility and elevation, with familiarity and dignity, with common equality and personal distinction, sprang from the roots of Lincoln's character. It was no feat of literary or intellectual skill. It was altogether the man. It was what was left after the storms and wastes of a gloomy life had given their large and solitary schooling to a noble soul. In one of his dreams he was in a great assembly, where the people made a lane to let him pass. “He is a common-looking fellow," said one of them. “Friend,” replied Lincoln, even in his dream, “the Lord prefers common-looking people; that is why he made so many of them.” Even Disraeli, hypocritically no doubt, said that in Lincoln's character there was “something so homely and innocent that it takes the question, as it were, out of all the pomp of history and the cere
monial of diplomacy,” and “touches the heart of nations."
" I never,” says his assistant Secretary of War, “ heard him say anything that was not so." He could refrain from speaking at all, but when the time came he told the truth. In his later years experience had so mellowed him that he saw the truth almost without moral indignation; but in his early days, before the burden of the world had chastened him, he could, as we have seen, “skin defendant.” One law case he refused with these words, “I could set a neighborhood at loggerheads, distress a widowed mother and six fatherless children, and get you the $600, which, for all I know, she has as good a right to as you have; but I will not do it.'
“ There are,” said Phillips Brooks, “men as good as he, but they do bad things. There are men as intelligent as he, but they do foolish things. In him goodness and intelligence combined and made their best result of wisdom.” Strangely mingled wisdom of Æsop and of the apostle, it was sought most willingly in the lowliest haunts and applied with fitness in the highest. When Sherman came to the River Queen from his march to the sea, what Lincoln asked him about with particular zest was the “bummers on the routes, and the devices to collect food and forage. He cared little for great men,
not overmuch for great books; but from Shakespeare, the Bible, sentimental ballads, American
, humorists, and above all from the ebb and flow of daily life, he learned the essential lessons. Pomp and ceremony were tiresome, ludicrous, or unnoticed. He wrote messages of moment to generals and secretaries on cards and slips of paper. A long letter about a law case, containing a desire to retain him, he returned with the indorsement: “ Count me in. A. Lincoln." His first spectacles, which he bought in 1856 in a tiny jewellery shop in Bloomington, with the remark that he “had got to be forty-seven years old and kinder needed them,” cost him 372 cents. At one o'clock, on a night after Lincoln had been away for a week, his Springfield neighbor heard the sound of an axe. Leaving his bed he saw Lincoln in the moonlight chopping the wood for his solitary supper.
Thus, from whatever angle we approach this nature, we glide inevitably from the serious to the amusing, and back again from the homely to the sublime. The world no longer sees the leisure and manners of a few as a compensation for the suppression of the many. The law of universal sympathy is upon us. Some imagine that in this levelling lies the loss of poetry, of great natures, of distinction, the impressive and stirring being laid upon the altar of a gloomy right. To them the life of Lincoln need have